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How I Learned to Love My Postpartum Body

Photo Courtesy of Gina Crosley-Corcoran

“After the birth of my first son, I hated my body. I absolutely despised it,” begins Gina Crosley-Corcoran, aka The Feminist Breeder, a mom, wife, pre-law student, former rock star, and writer who live-blogged the homebirth of her third child just two weeks ago. She continues, detailing the 50 pounds she gained during each of her first two pregnancies, and the negative feelings she had toward her body following those births, albeit less hateful the second time around, after a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). And then, just before she includes a picture of her belly 11 days postpartum (shown here, with her permission), she writes, “To my pleasant surprise, I feel wonderful about my postpartum body this time. I feel even better than I did last time.  Maybe it was the homebirth, or the fact that I only gained 38 lbs in this pregnancy, but I’m completely thrilled with how I look at just 11 days postpartum. I’ve already lost over half of that weight, with just 16 more lbs left until I’m back in my favorite jeans, and I honestly don’t care how long it takes that weight to come off – or if it never does. This body built three, big, healthy babies — so how can I not appreciate every little extra curve or dimple after what it’s given to me?” Pass me some Kleenex, please!
Plus: Real Postpartum Mom Bodies, Real Beauty

How many of us have been there, looking in the mirror and loathing what we see reflected, particularly after the birth of a baby? And how empowering is it to be able to look in that same mirror and see our same body, but with completely different (and more forgiving) eyes? For me, despite having loved my 36 added pounds of pregnancy curves, I remember feeling disgusted by my post-birth jelly belly, leaky boobs, and gaping crater of a belly button, after my first son’s birth. Only now, looking back on that time can I laugh, thinking of how much my son used to love sticking both big toes inside my belly button and pushing off while nursing; back then, I was horrified. And then, perhaps after a better birth experience the second time around—or maybe just a better perspective on my body and its capabilities, after the homebirth of my second son, despite looking at a very similar reflection in the mirror (after a 35-pound weight gain), I wasn’t so disappointed in what I saw. I appreciated my body’s ability to nurture these babies, both in the womb and out. 

Crosley-Corcoran concludes, “I hope that my new-found appreciation for my body will curb the body image issues I’ve been struggling with over the last 5 years of pregnancy and motherhood.  I’ve been entirely too self-loathing, and I don’t want to pass on any of that to my brand new, soon-to-be impressionable daughter.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying there’s a ‘right’ weight for all of us, and I do believe that we can be healthy at just about any size.  I just didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin before, and now, finally, I do.

How do you feel about your body after pregnancy? Did your feelings about your body change after subsequent pregnancies?